A recap of the Deep & Wide Tour featuring Andy Stanley

What do you get when you are filled with 1,000 regional church leaders, plus Reggie Joiner as the host and Andy Stanley sharing his heart for the next generation? The result is a full day of thought-provoking ideas and discussions happening under one roof. Andy and Reggie brought the Deep & Wide Tour to Kansas City and this Midwest region responded well in attendance. 

Andy led 4 sessions that revolved around his book Deep & Wide. Andy spent the first session laying the groundwork for sessions two and three. Here are just a few thoughts from the opening session that helped create great conversations between sessions. 

1. If the Old Testament was a homework assignment, Jesus came to complete it. Just ponder that thought for a moment or two. 

2. Andy spoke on the 600 OT commands that were in place and how Jesus wrapped up those 600 into 2 commands. Jesus went a step further and wrapped up the two commands into one with His statement from John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Boom! Mic drop! However you want to put it, we, the Church, must love people just as Christ has loved us. That's DEEP and it causes us to get WIDE when we follow through on that command. 

Session two dove into going deeper. A question that I'm wondering is what does it mean for my church to go deeper with folks? The answer I believe lies in this statement, "The goal isn’t to have church, it’s to make disciples." What methods are we currently using to do that? To put it in a different way, here are three questions that were posed to us by Andy and it's three questions that North Point Ministries uses to evaluate how they are doing. 

1. What do you count?

2. What’s a numerical win for your church? 

3. What numbers do you celebrate? 

Attendees aren’t all that concerned about attendance. We shifted our focus from attendance to engagement. That last statement is huge. Here's the list of engagement measurements that North Point Ministries focuses in on: 

  1. Serving- How many are serving
  2. Giving- How many are giving (not wrapped up in how much they are giving) 
  3. Inviting- How many members/attendees are inviting folks to attend with them 
  4. Grouping- How many are involved in a Community Group (small group)

Those analytics are worth any organization to consider measuring for a month. See what happens when you start measuring your church with those four engagement factors. 

Session three was probably the most eye-opening and thought-provoking of the four. "If we really want to go wide, we have to adjust our approach." Did you catch that? You've got to rethink and readjust how we go about reaching folks. 

Nearly one-quarter of Americans claim no religious affiliation. What an alarming number.  As of 2016, there were roughly 323.1 million people in the US. So, of that 323.1 million, 80,775,000 people claim no religious affiliation. It doesn't say that they are atheists or agnostics, they just don't claim to have any religious ties to a denomination or religious group. What the church was doing before isn't working today. We need to adjust our approach. 

The closing session was a great finish to an incredible day. A couple of great questions that really stirred those in attendance is what I finish with. Andy went into great detail of how Paul went to unheard of means to see that people followed Jesus. The text came from 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 and Andy asked this question, "What if we were “by all possible means” churches?" Boom x 2. Mic drop x 2. What would happen if your church and mine took the attitude of reaching people with a "by all possible means" approach? What would we see happen? The second question here was just as powerful. "What is the faith of the next generation worth?" What's your answer to that? It's easy to say "everything", but are our churches showing the next generation "everything"? DEEP AND WIDE. 

What an experience! The awesome thing if you want to see these two guys together again really soon is that they'll be together for Orange Conference April 25-27, 2018. The folks at Orange have a great discount that expires this week for $50 off registration. Here are a few of the voices that you'll see/here from Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley, Danielle Strickland, Reggie Joiner and more. You can get more information and register at theorangeconference.com. I hope to see you there!  

 

 

 

 

2018 Ministry Growth Plan

As 2018 quickly approaches, it’s important for us to pause for just a moment and think about what we want the year to look like. As we visually and prayerfully map out 2018, as leaders, we’ve got to make leadership growth a top priority for our sake and the sake of the ministry in which God has brought us to and through. Here’s a list of questions/statements to answer/consider when charting out your 2018 Ministry Growth Plan (I do recommend writing these out).

Where does innovation come in to play within my ministry setting? I am a firm believer in innovation over duplication. For ministry leaders like yourself, that simply means that we must stop relying on yesterday's good idea for today's good idea. We should be seeking a fresh word from the Lord, fresh vision, fresh ideas and His direction on where the ministry is headed. And here's the hard truth, today's duplication was yesterday's innovation. We must be leaders in innovation and cannot be reliant on yesterday's results. Take just a few moments right now, before proceeding, and ask the Lord for a fresh vision, for fresh ideas, a new and fresh direction, a new way of doing something. 

What conference(s) and/or professional development opportunities will I pursue? I am also a firm believer in attending conferences, in person or online. Conferences give you an opportunity to go away for just a little bit and focus on getting that fresh word from the Lord, on gaining new friendships, on hearing from some of the best leaders in your specific field of ministry. Here are 3 conferences I'll be attending in 2018: CPC 18 (January 16-18, 2018), #OC18 (April 25-27, 2018), and Exponential Conference (October 2-4, 2018). But I also recognize that not everyone has the ability to attend a conference due to scheduling, finances, etc. Don't let that stop you from growing in 2018.

Many experienced leaders are starting to offer some coaching that is personalized to your ministry and perhaps even experience and ministry size. Folks like Tom Bump and Tom Pounder are a couple of folks who are offering to coach ministry leaders. Tom Bump specializes in children's & family ministry while Tom Pounder focuses on student ministry & the quickly growing digital ministry. Another set of folks I'd like to point you to are Sue Miller and Adam Duckworth. They are the co-authors of the Not Normal Book and Leading Not Normal Volunteers. Together, they coach several folks in children's ministry across a 10-week platform that you are guaranteed to grow from and you can take part in right from the comforts of your home or office. Here's how you can connect with these folks: 

Tom Bump:

Twitter

Website

Tom Pounder:

Twitter

Website

Adam Duckworth & Sue Miller:

www.notnormalbook.com/contact-us

Who am I going to bring along on this journey in 2018? Ministry was never intended to be done alone. The one man who could have easily done it alone had a team of 12 plus many other followers and workers. You'll want to have someone along with you for accountability and to simply have another voice to pour into you.

How am I communicating the message I want families to know/live out? For so many of us, communication to different folks is within arms reach a good portion of the day. Many of my ministry parents are on social media. Guess what? I'm on social media. I want to be where a large number of my parents are. They are a target group for me to communicate with on a daily/weekly basis. I have a social media strategy that I use to help communicate the message I want families to know/live out. I also go on Facebook Live on Wednesday nights and stream my teaching. Not only are my parents watching, but other church members and hundreds of other folks that I have a connection with. That's a win for me! Perhaps this is where you use some innovation to you or your church first. Proceed as the Lord leads. If the senior leadership says no, go with it. Do seek out opportunities to hear their voice on the matter and for them to hear yours. 

When will I evaluate and re-evaluate my growth steps? Here are four 90 day points for us to use. 

1st 90- Develop/Implement your 2018 ministry growth plan. What are two-three areas of ministry or personal growth that you desire to get stronger in? Keep it to two-three. You want achievable goals and you also want to have two-three in place come January 1, 2019. Months January-March 

2nd 90- Develop a scoring system. Work with your Journey partner to develop a grading scale on how you want to score each other. Have your two-three goals written down with where you both would come to an agreement on where each other is on that scale. Months April-June

3rd 90- Detail your strides of growth. If you started off as a six in recruiting and moved to a seven, detail how you went about that. Detail your hard work. Months July-September

4th 90- Determine the outcome. This is the fine tuning of your strategy. This is ideally where we are about an eight-nine on our growth scale and we're putting together the best pieces to reach a ten. This is also where you will want to work with your Journey partner to lay out your growth plan for 2019. Months October-December

Why is enlarging my circle of influence is crucial to the success of my ministry? The simple truth to this is the more people you gain in your circle of influence, the greater number of folks who hear your heart, the greater number of folks who hear the heart of God and want to be apart of what you are doing. Relational evangelism and recruiting at its finest.

If I want to become a better Christian, husband, father, communicator, children's pastor, outreach pastor, I have to enlarge my circle of influence with those who are great at those things. There is always someone who knows more than I do and I want to be around those people so that I can know more too. 

 

 

Innovation over Duplication

Innovation Over Duplication

This topic is one that hopefully resonates with a lot of you.  If you are anything like me, you have often times found it to be very easy and comfortable to dig into that old bag of tricks and pull out something that has worked previously, perhaps in a different ministry setting or with a different target audience.  Over the course of this article, I want you to go on a journey with me in discovering how detrimental duplication can be to your ministry.

I have served in children’s ministry in some way, shape or form for over 20 years.  In that time, I have been able to have influence over children in 5 different churches.  I use the word influence because in 4 of those churches, I worked directly with teenagers because it is where “I thought” God wanted me to be.  All the while, He kept opening up opportunities to minister to children in those 5 churches in some capacity.  My mind just couldn’t wrap around the idea of serving in children’s ministry though.  I NEEDED to be doing Youth Ministry. 

The Lord was gracious to show me a lot of things in that span of time.  A lot of things that I would ultimately try to carry over into Children’s Ministry once I realized, through the nudging of God and my wife, that working with children was really where my heart and gifting’s were.  Even upon the great epiphany in my life of where I needed to be serving, I still wasn’t being totally fair to those I was ministering to.  It was my preference to do what I was comfortable with and knew very well how to execute perfectly.  I wasn’t giving God the opportunity to do something new in “my” ministry.

I had fallen into a rut of relying on yesterday’s good idea instead of seeking God for some fresh ideas or insight.  I went with what I knew instead of the scary unknown.  Duplication over innovation became what I was known for. 

The children wouldn’t complain much with my duplication because they were having fun with their friends and family.  Parents didn’t care much because it provided their kids with something to do.  And honestly, I was perfectly content with satisfying both of those groups.  The key ingredient was missing from my ideas and events, God’s plans.

I want to stop right here though and assure you that repeating an event or sermon isn’t wrong.  I find no sin in that at all as long as you’ve gone to God with it, but where I do find sin in it is by not seeking God first. I know, I know, we all have a title of some sort in children’s ministry.  Pastor, minister, teacher, volunteer, staff, ninja, small group leader, and the list could go on and on.  And it’s just a given that we all go to God with everything.  Well, I have a confession to make, I have not and likely will not.  It’s not because I don’t want to, because I do but rather it’s simply because sometimes I just don’t.  And I would guess that if you were being honest with yourself and God, you would find things in your ministry that you haven’t taken to Him either.

This form of duplication is just one of many traps that the enemy likes to see us travel down.  I firmly believe that it can be a ministry killer.  It’s a first and last resort many times because of the lazy bug or busy bug that we’ve been stricken by.  I’m guilty as charged.  I can’t tell you that enough.  But, it’s not something that I will always be known for. 

It’s not something that I will always beat myself up over.  Innovation over duplication is my rallying cry.  It’s my heartfelt desire.  It’s what I feel can help take my children’s ministry to the next level.  Innovation over duplication.

Before I share my thoughts on how to become innovators, I want you to know that I am no expert.  If anything, the thought is something that I am still trying to wrap my mind around and asking God to reshape that same mind for His glory.  

I reflect back to an interview process I was in with my current church.  It was in the Fall of 2014 and as I think back on the interview process, I relied a lot on duplication in sharing some ideas for ministry in this church.  It was stuff they had never heard of or had seen.  It was innovation to them while it was another case of duplication for me.  Now, I had some fresh, innovative ideas as well, but I sure do remember sharing a whole lot on what I had done and had been successful in.  It served a purpose I suppose as it gave insight to our staff on some of the things I had done in the past and perhaps what they could expect to see here as well.  As I’ve mentioned, this whole innovation over duplication process is still very much a struggle for me.

With all that said, let’s tackle how to be innovative in our ministry settings.  These are some points that God has been very upfront with me about so take them for what they are.  These are presently being tested and as you can expect, the results are rather impressive. 

First, seek God with your plans and intentions.  Jeremiah 33:3 states it perfectly.  “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you did not know.”  Duh, David!  Simple, I know.  You all know this, and I “know” this, just know that this is the first step. 

Secondly, in keeping with the theme of Jeremiah 33:3, wait for His answer.  A thought the Lord has made very clear to me in this process is that today’s duplication was yesterday’s innovation.  The result of going to Him is His answer and Him showing us things that we didn’t know.  Innovation.

Thirdly, don’t do what some other ministry is doing just because it was a success for them.  This is a hard one to resist because we’ve all heard the success stories from our friends in ministry who tried this and that and the results of that were absolutely amazing.  See this as a sign that God desires to bless His church and do big things in other places not named your church or ministry environment. 

It’s pretty awesome to grasp if we’ll sit back and absorb it.  You’ll have plenty of those success to stories to share over coffee as well.  It’s tempting, but please stay away from the thought.  

Lastly, don’t continue to rely on those awesome results from last years’ mega event.  What happened last year was awesome.  It’s worth rejoicing and celebrating over.  Several from your community are now involved in your church or heard the Gospel message for the first time.  AMEN!  Rejoice in that! 

Ask God for a new vision, a new desire, an innovative plan for something fresh to happen.  God CAN and WILL do it!  You’ve got to believe it and trust Him for the results.  Do you understand that David?  Trust God for the results. 

One of the great things about doing life and ministry together, we can learn from each other.  Hopefully you’ve done just that in reading this.  It’s my prayer that not would I learn to be more innovative and not reliant on duplicating previous successes, but that you too would choose innovation over duplication.

Reflections of Mother's Day

This Sunday is sure to be a great day for many ladies all across the world. It's a day that we get to celebrate the women who've done the hard work of delivery and taking care of the precious miracle from Day 1 all the way up to when they just can't take care of them any longer.

You see, a Mom never stops being a mom, it's a title she has been given by God Himself. Matter of fact, there are few titles in this world that mean more than "Mom". And perhaps, title isn't the right word. Mom is so much more than a title right? It becomes her name, it's how she responds in the crowd of folks around her when you are calling her name or in the still silence of a rocking chair as she rocked you to sleep at 3:00 AM.

Moms are flat out SUPERHERO's. There's simply no way around it. But, I would like to share something with you that perhaps will help us see Mother's Day in a different light this Sunday.

The following was taken from a blog for Pastors titled The Messy Middle. The author Amy Young is not a mother herself but shares some great insight that we must all consider.

The wide spectrum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child - we celebrate with you.

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you.

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away - we mourn with you.

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you.

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you.

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you.

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.

To those who have aborted children - we remember them and you on this day.

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children - we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.

To those who step-parent - we walk with you on these complex paths.

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be - we grieve with you.

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you.

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you.

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you. Happy Mother's Day.